Do You Need a Personal Trainer?By Mike DuBose and Joel DuBose
With every new year, millions of Americans strive to keep their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat right, and obtain healthier bodies. Many will join gyms in an effort to reach their goals—in fact, 12% of new gym memberships begin in January of each year. However, without the knowledge of how to properly use the equipment, which exercises to perform, and how often to do them, many of these individuals become frustrated and quit. According to some studies, 60-80% of gym-goers drop their memberships or stop going within the first eight months of signing up. Most give up within just three months!
Although there are countless dollars wasted on memberships that are never put to use, there’s an even more important issue facing those who give up on the gym: regular exercise is a critical component of having a healthy body and mind. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends performing at least thirty minutes of exercise five days per week to reap its benefits, which include weight loss, improved mental health, and a reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease and some cancers. Exercise also serves a preventative role, strengthening your body and keeping it resilient as you age. As Michelle Kulas reported in a Livestrong.com article, “Combining aerobic exercise with strength training at the gym helps your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons remain in good shape, which will make you stronger and more flexible.” Brisk exercise can also elevate moods, reduce worry, and help battle depression.
People usually know that exercise is good in general, but most lack the knowledge to create and follow detailed fitness routines catering to their unique abilities and goals. The sheer volume of fitness advice published in magazines, books, and on the Internet can be overwhelming (and very often, contradictory). One option is hiring a fitness professional for individualized instruction on how to exercise correctly—but is hiring a personal trainer really worthwhile?
What are the benefits of hiring a personal trainer?
According to the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT), “A good personal trainer delivers safe, effective, fun and interesting workouts (in that order) to all fitness-training clients.” Qualified personal trainers create fitness programs that improve cardiovascular strength and endurance, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Some of the other benefits include:
Accountability: One of the greatest challenges to adopting a healthier lifestyle is making it into a habit. With personal trainers, individuals commit to meeting regularly, so they have more accountability than simply relying on their willpower to make it to the gym. This one-on-one motivation can be the defining factor in whether a person sticks to a plan or falls off the wagon.
Variety: Certified, competent personal trainers have an extensive understanding of the body and how exercises can be combined in different programs for maximum benefits. They can provide their clients with countless options and configurations so they don’t end up doing the same things over and over. Variety can also help clients break through fitness plateaus.
Individualization: Every person’s body is different, and each has unique needs, goals, motivations, and experience. Certified trainers begin by conducting thorough assessments of their clients’ pre-existing knowledge, conditions, backgrounds, and goals to determine where the individual is currently and what they are capable of doing. They then design a flexible plan so that the individual can progress in a healthy, safe way, making adjustments as needed.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), personal trainers should know your body’s limits, build up exercise gradually, and strive for a total body workout of cardiovascular, strength-training, and flexibility exercises each week. During their first few sessions, successful trainers will closely monitor their clients’ progress to determine how much to “push” them, motivating them to safely achieve goals within their range of abilities.
Fewer injuries: Exercise is good for you, but not if you do things incorrectly and hurt yourself (or exacerbate existing injuries). A survey by IDEA Health & Fitness Association found that 50 percent of personal trainers’ clients have special medical needs, such as arthritis, diabetes or obesity. A qualified personal trainer will assess his or her clients’ pre-existing injuries and other issues such as chronic pain and weak body areas, and then design modified exercise programs to help each individual get in shape safely.
Proper form and execution are essential in preventing injuries as well. Quality personal trainers ensure that their clients are well versed in the safest, most effective ways to perform exercises. In fact, the NFPT advises that, “It’s always better to lift lighter weights with proper form than to lift heavy weight with sloppy form and work your way up the ‘ladder’ to the heavier weights!”
Greater results in less time: For many people, hiring a personal trainer is like getting on a “fast track” to fitness. Professional trainers leverage their knowledge to teach clients how to maximize their efforts, achieving the greatest results in minimal time. According to certified personal trainer Joel DuBose of DuBose Fitness Center, “It’s not how much exercise you do that’s important, but how you execute, isolate, and understand muscular functions and how to apply that to training.”
The bottom line: If you’ve been resolving to get healthier every New Year’s with no lasting success (or even if you’re embarking on your fitness journey for the first time), a personal trainer might just provide the motivation you need to make a permanent commitment to a healthier lifestyle. However, there are some potential negatives to hiring a personal trainer as well. Read our upcoming articles to learn more about what you should be aware of to avoid serious injuries from hiring the wrong fitness professional, as well as how to select the right personal trainer. You can also read our discussion of the pros and cons of joining a gym in a previously published article, which can be found at www.dubosefitness.com/gymmemberships.
About the Authors: Our corporate and personal purpose is to “create opportunities to improve lives” by sharing our knowledge, research, experiences, successes, and mistakes. You can contact Joel DuBose or Mike DuBose by e-mailing email@example.com.
Joel DuBose is president of DuBose Fitness Center, a private gym that only offers one-on-one personal training. He studied exercise science and psychology at the University of South Carolina and later served as the strengthening and conditioning coach with basketball coach Tim Whipple at Irmo High School. He is a Certified Personal Trainer with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the International Association of Fitness Science.
Mike DuBose, a University of South Carolina graduate, is the author of The Art of Building a Great Business. He has been in business since 1981 and is the owner of Research Associates, The Evaluation Group, Columbia Conference Center, and DuBose Web Group. He also partnered, with his son, Joel DuBose, to create the company DuBose Fitness Center. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for a free copy of his book and more than 100 additional business, travel, and personal published articles, including health columns written with Dr. Surb Guram, MD.
Katie Beck serves as Director of Communications for the DuBose family of companies. She graduated from the USC School of Journalism and Honors College.
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